Outliving His Obituary Writer

james van allen

James Van Allen

Not many people can say that they outlived their obituary writer. However, in the case of physicist James Van Allen (1914-2006), he outlived his obituary writer by ten years.

In 1996, science reporter Walter Sullivan (1918-1996) was tasked by the Associated Press to write an obituary of Van Allen to be published once he passed away. At the time, Van Allen was already rather old so somebody in the Associated Press may have thought that his death was near.

The prewritten obituary was proven to be unnecessary since Van Allen lived for ten more years. He died on August 9, 2006, at 91.

In an ironic twist of fate, Sullivan died in the same year when he wrote Van Allen’s obituary.

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About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at learnfunfacts.com. You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkMLaw and Facebook. My email is learnfunfacts@gmail.com
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8 Responses to Outliving His Obituary Writer

  1. The man who gave us a name for the “Van Allen Belts.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mistermuse says:

    Shades of Mark Twain, who wrote in 1897 that “The report of my death is an exaggeration” (often misquoted as “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”). Twain didn’t die until 1910.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. E A M Harris says:

    I like this little bit of history. Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There seems to be present, unexplained guidance in many events, Maybe this could be applied to Climate Change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So, if ever I get asked to write someone’s obituary…

    Liked by 1 person

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